EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons announced charges filed Tuesday against two Arizona women in connection with substantial amounts of U.S. currency found hidden in their vehicle.
Yesenia A. Guillen, 38, and Francisca B. Encinas, 43, were each charged with two counts of money laundering, a Class 1, non-probationable felony. The maximum penalty for a Class 1 Felony is 4-15 years in prison.
Charging documents allege Guillen and Encinas “knowingly transported monetary instruments, being United States currency, having a total value in excess of $500,000.” The first money laundering count also alleges Guillen and Encinas “knew or had reason to know, said transport and monetary transaction was designed in whole or in part to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under state law.”
Guillen and Encinas, who are both from Tucson, were heading south Sunday on Interstate 55/70 when they were pulled over by an Illinois State Police trooper for speeding and license plate obstruction. During contact with the defendants, troopers developed evidence that the vehicle was being used for narcotics trafficking. A search revealed hidden compartments throughout the vehicle, each containing substantial amounts of currency packaged in a manner consistent with drug trafficking. Pursuant to state law, the currency seized by the troopers will be held pending civil proceedings to seize the money as assets and proceeds of drug sales.
“This case provides citizens with a prime example of how drug cartels continue to use the highways running through Madison County as a pipeline for their illegal narcotics trafficking empire,” Gibbons said in a press release. “While the amounts involved in this and other similar cases may seem staggering to us, they are just a drop in the bucket for the cartels. These roads and bridges belong to the people and were paid for with citizens’ hard-earned taxes, and it disgusts me to think that this continues to go on day after day.”
Gibbons offered his praise and thanks to the Illinois State Police for all of the work contributed to this case.
“Once again, the troopers and agents of the Illinois State Police and MEGSI (Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois) did an outstanding job. We owe them our thanks for their keen police work and unwavering commitment to fighting the flow of heroin and other drugs through and into our community.”
Guillen and Encinas are both in custody at the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville, where they are being held without bond.
These charges, as well as the statements made herein, are based upon probable cause. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.